Sweet sorghum is just one type of sorghum plant, and the higher sugar content is what distinguishes it from other types of sorghum. There are several varieties of sweet sorghum, and farmers breed these specifically for their sweetness [source: Bitzer]. Sorghum syrup producers crush the stalk to extract the sweet juice, just like sugar cane. After extracting the juice, they cook it down to create the sorghum syrup -- also called sorghum molasses -- that stocks store shelves [source: UGA Extension].
You can use sorghum syrup to replace other liquid sweeteners, like honey, molasses, maple syrup or even white sugar in recipes, though on its own sorghum syrup is more like maple syrup than any of these other sweeteners. The trick to substituting sorghum syrup for other sweeteners is knowing what ratio to use. You can substitute sorghum syrup in place of maple syrup or corn syrup in recipes using a one-to-one ratio, but for other sweeteners, you may need to adjust your recipe slightly. The National Sweet Sorghum Producers & Processors Association has a handy list of some common sweeteners and the ratios to use when you want to replace them with sorghum syrup.
Sorghum syrup is also is more nutritious than some other more refined sweeteners. Unlike table sugar, it contains iron, calcium, and potassium along with other micronutrients [source: National Sweet Sorghum Producers & Processors Association].
We've been cooking with sorghum syrup for hundreds of years, but what's really made this crop catch on in recent years is its potential as a biofuel to replace or supplement petroleum in our fuel supply.